Advice needed: Ideal upgrade to my Honda CBR250R

I am looking for a middleweight upgrade to my CBR 250R and the usage would primarily be city and weekend rides.

BHPian pratik_terni recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello All, This is Pratik and I currently am in Bangalore. Please be advised that this is a long and maybe a boring post, so please feel free to skip to the last paragraph. I have been a regular reader for a very long time (close to 12-13 years maybe) but this is my first post on the forum.

Background: I have owned a CBR 250R for the last 8 years and have done close to 33k kms on the bike mainly in the first 6 years of ownership (almost 0 rides in Covid). The 33k kms include city plus weekend rides to places close to Bangalore, farthest being Pondicherry (393 kms one way due to the lovely Vellore route that we chose). 99% of the trips are mainly me and my wife deciding a place and me riding there with wifey as pillion.

The only bigger bike that I rode slightly extensively was the rented Interceptor which we rode to Hampi and back. I have never ridden a super bike except this and the test rides but more on that a bit later.

Confusion: The CBR 250R is a beautiful bike and super reliable, I never really enjoyed riding it and I have still held on to it for 8 years cos it is that reliable, has alloys and is decently powered for long rides. I actually wanted to buy a Duke 390 but the horror stories of reliability issues back in 2014 were enough to keep me away from it.

Now I am looking for a middleweight upgrade (preferably naked) to my CBR 250r and the usage would primarily be city and weekend rides as mentioned earlier. This would mostly be a used bike cos I want to restrict the budget to 9 lakhs max. It would definitely not hurt to upgrade by not using that entire budget. I am thinking something in the 70-80 bhp range.

I don’t think a 100+ bhp bike would really make sense because:

  • I may not have the skills for handling it
  • The engine heat and subjecting the bigger bike to Bangalore traffic would not be fair to the bike and me
  • I don’t know where I’d even use that much power to really enjoy a 100 bhp bike without the right skills

My primary expectations from the bike are:

  • Pillion comfort because WIFE
  • Fun to ride bike which is manageable in city traffic and tight tip toeing spots. I am not fat but not skinny either, lazy with a height of 5′ 10″. And nowhere close to being fit.
  • Good ground clearance
  • I do not want an attention magnet

Attempts to solve the above problem:

Kawasaki z 650: It was a good short test ride and was quick and comfortable. That twin cylinder engine does not sound that good and when you ride the triples, it’s clear that you are never going to settle for the twin exhaust note.

Triumph Street Twin: This test ride was a big surprise as I did not expect the bike to be that easy to handle.Accessing and Ease of handling probably felt the best of the lot to us. It is decently powerful and sounded good too. But discarded it because the downers were low ground clearance, lack of sixth gear and chain maintenance every 500kms.

One other thing that could be an issue is lack of tyre options for the 18 inch front wheel.

Triumph Street Triple R/RS: I know this is not at all a sensible option but the R was not available. This is the only bike that does not satisfy the 70-80 bhp criteria, is expensive, my wife hated it in the first 10 mins. BUT, the way that bike rode, the engine note, the way it picked up speed, the effortless handling was just enough to forget the street twin I rode.

My wife cursed me the entire ride because she felt like she was holding on to dear life the first time. She was not at all prepared for the test ride (read Indian attire) because we just decided to go try it out.

Triumph Trident: We revisited the Triumph showroom this time better dressed and with very high expectations due to the videos that I had watched. We really liked the way the trident felt. It kind of felt that it was somewhat offering best of both Street Triple and Street Twin. It was comfortable, had a sweet sounding triple engine and has just the right amount of power on paper. I did feel that the throttle response was a bit delayed but as per the videos, traction control can be turned off to address it. We do feel this will be ideal for my use case.

We also retried the Street Triple RS but the response from home ministry was the same, though it is a better bike, it was not that comfortable.

Triumph Tiger Sport 660:

It had same engine characteristics, higher riding position with a screen to protect from the wind blasts for those weekend rides. So obviously better than the Trident right? Wrong. The seat was very good for me but the pillion seat is shaped so far away that it was wierd. Our helmets kept hitting each other and there was a gap between me and my wife. We quickly happily jumped back on the Trident that the Triumph rep was riding halfway through the test ride.

RE Interceptor: Nice and fun bike, most affordable and underpowered of the lot but i felt it could do with 20-25% more power. The seat was also uncomfortable and we took a couple of more breaks during our Hampi ride than we normally do. The lack of alloys has really stopped me from picking up this bike. This bike is really a fallback option for me since it is cheaper than the other options and i can surely save a good amount of money which i can then experiment with modifications. But again, this was not a bike that i loved, just liked it.

I know I should also be trying the Honda 650 siblings, CB500x and the V Strom 650 but the dealerships in Bangalore do not have test ride bikes, nor any clarity on when they’d be available.

I did not try inline 4s like Kawasaki z900 and Suzuki Gsxs 750 in this budget cos 100+ bhp, though I may test ride the z900 just for fun.

Busy members please read from here: Enough of my blabbering, I’ll get to the point. I feel I’ll be happy with a Trident but the Street Triple R has a lot more to offer for just 2 lakhs more. That may not necessarily mean that it makes it a better option for me because it will heat up more, will need seat modifications to make the pillion comfortable and i am assuming will grab some attention. But it will give me the best naked that there is in the market which is fun to ride. How to get these in the used market is another major concern for me but lets address that later. As a humble request to the forum members, please let me know your thoughts and please feel free to suggest alternatives/options.

Here’s what BHPian shancz had to say on the matter:

Never ridden either of those but the Speed Triple is the best naked out there IMHO.

Your requirements seem to be fulfilled by the Trident not the Speed Triple. Adding two lakhs more doesn’t get you an upgrade of the Trident but a completely different motorcycle. Adding a more comfortable seat isn’t going to take away the brutal acceleration and the power to weight ratio.

Get a Speed Triple for yourself but for a pillion look elsewhere.

Something like a Z650RS would look good and a Versys 650 though bulky would score highly on pillion comfort.

But if it’s the sound that moves you then look at inline 3 and 4 cylinders only.

GSX750/CB650R would sound good but do check on the weight and pillion comfort.

Here’s what BHPian neil.jericho had to say on the matter:

pratik_terni, welcome to the forum. From your post, the problem statement (intended usage) is pretty clear. However, your solution (options considered) seem to diverge from the conventional choices in the motorcycle enthusiast community.

First things first, among the superbike dealerships in Bangalore, Triumph has by far the worst SVC. The horror stories that we get to know of, are simply mind boggling. Please do research on this before buying a new Triumph motorcycle in Bangalore. We have a dedicated thread on this forum that covers Triumph’s SVCs. As a Triumph owner, I would strongly discourage anyone from buying a new bike or a used bike with warranty, in Bangalore and Cochin, where the quality of the SVCs is highly questionable.

Secondly, if you are going to be touring two-up, for 99% of the time, then you are looking at the wrong bikes.

Thirdly, if you are going to be using your next big bike in the city, again, you are looking at the wrong bikes.

Looking strictly at your stated usage criteria, the following bikes stand out for their all round usability

  • Honda CB500X (new)
  • Honda CB650R / CBR650R / CB650F (used)

I would suggest that you get the Honda CB500X. You will be able to tour in peace and ride around town, without a worry. Yes, test ride bikes arent available at the moment. You might have to wait for a month or so, before the latest generation bike gets launched. Several TBHPians own the current generation CB500X and have shared very positive feedback on its usability for our tough conditions.

In case you are wondering, Kawasaki and Honda offer the best after sales service in Bangalore.

Do remember that you will likely be buying a motorcycle that you will keep for several years. So, don’t rush into a decision tomorrow, just because test rides of one or two bikes are readily available. Bide your time and test ride all the options in your budget. Happy shopping!

Here’s what BHPian shanmd had to say on the matter:

Hey Pratik

I ride a 4 month old Trident on the streets of Bombay. And let me tell you.. I love it. It has become a “premium commuter” bike for me. I look for reasons to take it and not the car. Any will do. Went on a couple of smallish rides.. including one impulsive Pune and back. My ass got used to the seat pretty quickly. Have a Givi/Triumph Tank bag and am considering couple of tailbags as options. All in all, excitement is all in the air. lol

But I have consciously chosen it to be a selfish experience. I’m 5’10 not marathon fit, but fit nevertheless.. and never thought it would be comfortable for the pillion. The seat kind of ends suddenly. So I am really surprised that you two found it apt in this.

SVC reputation is indeed a huge factor in deciding. My years old list had MT09, Monster 797, Leoncino & Interceptor. First was not sold here, second has world’s worst SVC rep in the country, third was a vibrating mess, and the fourth became a dealbreaker due to wheels. Trident came pretty late to the equation. Triple was always the eye-catcher with those bug-eyed lamps. But it’s a hooligan experience. The Trident has that quiet unassuming stance.. till you get on and thumb it. Very nimble and balanced on the roads, and not too heavy. It kind of ticked everything on my list. A couple of Triumph owners I knew had shifted cities and were happy with the SVC here.. and so I decided. And that has been a good experience till now.

I am returning to riding after a couple of decades of four wheels. And found the Trident the most welcoming. I found it gentle in handling my mistakes, exhilarating on open roads, doesn’t roast my limbs at the red lights and piled traffic, flies under the attention radar until the person is right next to me, and generally being beautiful to the eye.

Still I have reservations about the pillion experience.

Here’s what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

To your specific question: Street Triple R vs Trident 660

The Street Triple R any day of the week!! Its just better built and a FAR superior machine to the Trident in every single respect, right from quality levels to the performance. That extra 2 lakh is disproportionate to what you’re getting in return.

BUT,

as Neil and some others have already pointed out, is it really the bike for you. I would also agree that bikes like Versys 650, VStrom 650 and the Honda 500X suit your use case MUCH better. Amongst these three I feel the VStrom / the Versys will probably feel a distinct notch nicer than the Honda.

The other option would be to save a ton of money and consider either the 390 Adventure or a 310 GS. Both are extremely capable bikes but of course the first three options will be that notch superior on most fronts – comfort for two up touring as well as the overall riding experience. Test ride these three bikes and see which one appeals to you the most in terms of its “connect”.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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